Photo credit: Bronx Community College, 2009.
In the late 1800s NYU sought to relocate its expanding campus away from the growing congestion of Washington Square for the more pastoral locale of what is now the University Heights neighborhood in the Bronx. Largely made possible by financial backing from Mrs. Finley J. Shepard (Helen Gould), construction of the new campus was spearheaded by Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, Chancellor of NYU from 1891 to 1910. This construction included the Gould Memorial Library at the heart of the University’s new campus and its adjacent open-air Colonnade, which was later the site of the Hall of Fame. Founded in 1900, The Hall of Fame was the first memorial of its kind in the country, built to honor prominent Americans who made a significant impact on this nation's history. Designed by renowned architect Stanford White and formally dedicated on May 30, 1901, the Colonnade accommodates 102 sculptured works and currently houses the busts and commemorative plaques of 98 of the 102 honorees inducted since 1901. In 1973, the Hall of Fame, along with the rest of the University Heights campus, was sold to the City University of New York (CUNY) and was designated the new home for BCC.
The collection at BCC is comprised of approximately 67 linear feet containing papers and objects, (medallions, plaques, busts, newsprint, etc.) related to the selection, election, careers, and media coverage of the persons represented in the Hall of Fame, which attained National Landmark status in 2012. Materials found include memoranda and personal correspondence, office records, university publications, research files, publicity materials, photographs, and artifacts.
Photo credit: BCC Archives, 2015.
This collection was processed by Archives staff and the finding aid and box list is available here. The collection is available for research by appointment. Please contact the Archivist Prof. Cynthia Tobar with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
Visions of Greatness at Bronx Community College: Rethinking Racial Disparities in the Hall of Fame
The Bronx Community College (BCC) Archives is glad to announce a new digital exhibition that is now available online: Visions of Greatness at BCC: Rethinking Racial Disparities in the Hall of Fame. While BCC faculty have sought to integrate the Hall of Fame monument into the college’s curriculum, there is still a relational disparity between the honorees represented and the now very diverse student body. While it’s somewhat easier to find historical information on the Hall of Fame, no one resource has come together to present the narrative of historical exclusion and diversity in a coherent, easy to find package that supports curricular initiatives. This online exhibit will serve as a critical tool for students as they explore what thematic connections exist between the Hall of Fame’s past and BCC’s present. This exhibit will also highlight the current mission of the college: …”to expand opportunities in higher education for the diverse BCC community.”
The exhibition features digitized archival documents, newspaper clippings, flyers, memorandum, photographs capturing the social impact this monument had in the Bronx, New York City, as well as the country. The site also features critical interpretive essays from a team of scholarly contributors including Dr. Grisel Acosta, Gregory Jost, Dr. Prithi Kanakamedala and Bronx Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan. These essays cover themes examining Historical Exclusion & Public Commemoration, Accomplishment & Opportunity, Public Service, and Issues of Representation. This exhibition is not only the first time the Hall of Fame for Great Americans archival collection is being presented online; the site will also welcome public participation for nominations for a “virtual” Hall of Fame.
This online exhibit was made possible by a grant from the Diversity Projects Development Fund, City University of New York.